Kaizen management can give your company a significant edge over your competitors. It involves lean operations and continuous improvement, two factors that are vital in order to be effective in today’s economy. Another major component is empowering your employees to participate in finding Opportunities for Improvement as well as their solutions.
Following a kaizen management style involves a shift away from many of the principles of traditional business management models.
Here are some of the best practices associated with Kaizen:
- Focus on the process, not the goal
In a country where goals are almost sacred, this might be the biggest difference between kaizen management and traditional management styles. Kaizen is based on a philosophy of small, incremental, continuous improvement. When this style is fully operational, it creates a self-sustaining cycle of opportunities and solutions aimed at reducing waste of time, money and resources. Goal-oriented management focuses on control with a limited definition of success, while kaizen is flexible and adaptive. It uses metrics for evaluation rather than to measure the improvements and meet a predefined number. Process oriented management looks at the big picture, while goal oriented management is more narrowly focused on the short term.
- Engage your employees in the decision making process
Employees often feel powerless to affect change in their work places. They’re your greatest resource for ideas and skills, but they believe that their voice isn’t heard. Token attempts at engagement like the typical suggestion box don’t produce any meaningful action. Kaizen management, on the other hand, includes employees in the improvement process from identification through implementation to recognition. Seeing their position in the company validated gives them the confidence and motivation to continue looking for more opportunities to improve.
- Go after the low-hanging fruit
As mentioned, kaizen management focuses on small, incremental improvement. Employees are encouraged to seek opportunities for change that are low-risk and low-cost. This enables change to be affected quickly, creating a momentum that carries through to the next project. It also keeps the energy level high, providing greater engagement on the part of employees. These changes create the building blocks that form the culture of continuous improvement.
- “Do it better, make it better”
Everyone is familiar with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In traditional business models, if a process or system appears to be functioning reasonably well, it’s assumed that it’s operating at maximum effectiveness. Kaizen management assumes that every element of a company can be improved. Employees are encouraged to look at established policies and methods with a fresh eye. Instead of thinking up reasons why something can’t be done, they’re urged to ignore conventional limitations and figure out how it can be done.
- Eliminate waste in all forms
For many companies, waste is looked at from a financial perspective. For Kaizen management, waste applies to all resources. One resource that can never be replenished is time. Every action should add some value to the company, and empoyees are encouraged to look for ways to increase efficiency and reduce waste. The workplace is constantly adjusted to be organized in such a way that no unnecessary steps are taken.
Kaizen management is a positive, proactive way of operating a company. What changes could you implement in your organization by adopting this style?